Hello, David here with a CircusWest alumni interview! This time, we’re chatting with a recent graduate of Quebec Circus School, Claire Hopson. We discuss her discipline, the ups-and-downs of aerial straps, and how circus has impacted her personally.

Let’s get into it!

David: When did you graduate the CirKids program?

Claire: I graduated in 2015.

D: How long were you a student?

C: From age 9 to 18.

D: What is your focus area?

C: Aerial straps is the main discipline, with some experience with chinese pole.

D: What do you like about straps?

C: It’s really technical, so it takes strength, but at the same time, that’s not necessary with the right technique. I think that’s really fun because the options are limitless, you can do static, swinging, dynamic, there’s so many different styles. Especially now, the [standard] keeps getting higher and higher, so it’s really fun to figure out your own style throughout what’s already been made.

D: Have you ever had any close calls or scary sets doing straps?

C: Yeah, for sure. One time, I didn’t calculate an extra turn and I almost blew out my shoulder completely. But it was fine, it took a couple weeks to heal. I was very surprised that it was not the same going forward or backward! But now I know not to make that mistake again.

D: Do you work better with a coach, or by yourself?

C: I really like working alone when I’m doing artistic, but for sure doing technique it’s great to have a coach so they can tell you “No, feet higher!” or “Arm by your ear!” you know, just the little things you don’t normally think about.

D: How about chinese pole? what do you like about that discipline?

C: I think it’s just a really fun discipline. It’s something that doesn’t take too long to learn the basics. So that’s really encouraging, because you just keep learning new things every day. It’s just a good feeling you get when you’re like “Okay, it’s going forward, I’m moving forward.”

D: Where did you study after CircusWest?

C: I studied at quebec circus school for 4 years.

Yannick Blackburn for Saltimenco Cirque who did duo trapeze – also highly recommended for teaching straps.

D: What are your goals with circus work now that you’re out of school?

C: I just want to work with as many companies as I can to get a feel for what’s out there. After that I’ll decide what I like best. Now that I’m just fresh out of school, I just wanna keep learning and meeting people and traveling.

D: Who have you taught with?

C: I don’t coach much, but I would like to learn eventually for later life when I won’t be able to do circus anymore. But since I’ve finished school I’ve just been working with different companies; little shows here and there. I’ll have time to coach later when I’m broken, haha!

D: What would you say is an important life skill you’ve learned through doing circus?

C: To stay open minded. I feel like a lot of things aren’t what you’re going to expect. But that doesn’t mean it’s not as good as anything else.

Also, a sense of family. Sticking to it, even if you’re nervous, just putting yourself out there. This is the support team through whatever happens, and community will always be there for you.

D: Cool! Was there anything else you wanted to add?

C: I think if you’re in CircusWest but you’re not sure if you should stay… Stay! It’s a good community.

D: Are you still in touch with friends from CirKids?

C: Yeah! Everytime I come back home we get together. I want to be friends with those people forever.


Thanks for reading our conversation, and thanks to Claire for taking the time to chat. You can follow her on Instagram here. Keep flying high!

David Borja